On Sunday, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) arrested six illegal immigrants and one female U.S. citizen at the Mid Valley Airport for allegedly attempting to smuggle people from the border into to the interior of the United States via a small plane.
In the process, they discovered one of the migrants was a deported felon from Mexico, wanted in Wisconsin on a case involving a sexual assault on a minor.
It’s a scene that is playing out in the Lone Star State with increasing frequency, according to Texas Highway Patrol Staff Lieutenant Christopher Olivarez.
“We’re seeing an increase,” Olivarez told Fox News. “It’s started to become more common. But … these are small, private airports. They’re not using the larger airports where there’s TSA. These are the smaller airports where you don’t have the security measures in place for private planes. It’s kind of hard to … do surveillance at every single airport.”
“There’s more people coming in, and the more people you have coming in, of course, they want to find more ways to make it into the interior,” he explained. “But what’s unique is…you have to understand the [difference] between the people who are being smuggled on planes — those are people who have not been processed. Those are people who are trying to avoid detection.”
Known as “gotaways” by border agents, more than 55,000 migrants have managed to sneak past DPS each month of this fiscal year, according to Fox, though they were picked up on cameras or other sensors. Back in July, the number of “gotaways” had topped 500,000.
Using small, chartered planes to traffic humans into the States is big business, as pilots are not required to verify a passenger’s citizenship status for their manifest lists, Olivarez said. Illegal migrants are flown out of the Rio Grande Valley and are often dropped off in Houston, which the officer calls a human trafficking “hub.” From there, the smugglers transport the new arrivals to new destinations both in Texas and across the nation.
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Many times, said Olivarez, the pilots of the chartered planes don’t realize they are involved in trafficking.
“A lot of times, they don’t even know what’s going on,” he said. “They’re just told, ‘Okay, I’m going to charter this plane. We’re going to pick up this many passengers from this airport, and we’re going to take them to this airport.’ That’s it.”
Two other attempts to smuggle by plane were recently grounded by Texas DPS.
On August 31, 12 would-be “gotaways” were gotten, and 19 more were thwarted on September 23.
Texas congressional candidate Frank Lopez Jr., a retired Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent wants to follow the money.
“Air travel certainly has played a role in this,” he said of the border crisis. “My question would be: Who can afford a private [plane]? Even just a propeller. I’ve seen the pictures of the aircraft that are being used. So, who can afford that? … Who is involved with this? And the people that are being smuggled — are these your run-of-the-mill illegal aliens? Or is there something special about them? Is there something that makes them a higher value package, per se?”
“These are people who are not wanting to walk up to a National Guardsman, say, ‘Here I am,'” he noted, adding that the people chartering plans “either have money, or they’re going to owe a lot of money.”
Meanwhile, migrants who have been bussed to New York City are packing their bags and heading to Florida to make some money.
According to the New York Post, Venezuelan migrants are boarding vans destined for the Sunshine State to aid in the clean-up efforts from the devastation of Hurricane Ian.
While they weren’t necessarily aware of who they’d be working for, they are being approached with fliers and told there’s money to be made.
“They want us for hurricane cleanup, we’d get paid $15 an hour, overtime and $15 for food daily, I think,” Javier Moreno, 37, told The Post.
A woman named Camila “from an organization” handed him one such flier.
“I’m going for the work,” Moreno said. “It’s been hard for us migrants to find work here in New York, that’s why a lot of us are going. How’s the work in Florida?”
The same “Camila” has reportedly approached several Venezuelans with news of vans and work down south. Group chats used by migrants are being used to spread the word.
“We all decided we would go,” one migrant woman said, adding, “I don’t know anything” about who was offering the work.
“Do you know what kind of work we’ll be doing there?” another migrant woman asked a Post reporter.
DeSantis faces big moment as Ian bears down on Florida https://t.co/eUKEUpvfQW
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One of the drivers of the vans told the outlet that he was under contract with a water and debris company, but when The Post tried to verify the details via several calls, the firm didn’t pick up the phone.
“I’m taking these people in the van straight to Florida tonight,” the driver said. “I don’t know how many people have left or how many more vans are coming.”
FEMA has told The Post that the agency is not involved in the relocation of NYC migrants to Florida for work, and a spokesperson from Mayor Eric Adams’ office said City Hall had nothing to do with it.
Still, many hopeful migrants are rushing to take advantage of the offer.
However, because of the fuzzy details, one Venezuelan migrant stated, “I didn’t want to go.”
When he returned to the 30th Street men’s shelter in Manhattan, he discovered his fellow migrants weren’t nearly as cautious.
“I came back to the shelter one night to find that people were leaving in vans,” he said. “I don’t know how they found out about it, but when I got back, like 100 of them had left.”
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